Project B4-1: Greywater Reuse – Pathogen Removal by a Membrane Bioreactor


Kimberly Jones, PhD

Howard University
Civil & Environmental Engineering

The nexus of food and water in urban areas presents an opportunity for students from different disciplines to work collaboratively to produce systematic solutions to sustain rapidly growing populations. Urban agriculture is becoming increasingly popular in cities such as Washington D.C. and can help deliver more sustainable food to residents, particularly in areas with inadequate access to healthy food sources. The reclamation of wastewater for reuse within the urban system for agriculture purposes offers a wide range of benefits such as preserving scarce water resources, re-utilizing valuable nutrients (e.g., nitrogen and phosphorus), and promoting sustainable urban agriculture to provide communities with sustainable, local food sources.PDF] Greywater Treatment with a Submerged Membrane Sequencing Batch Reactor  | Semantic Scholar

In order to minimize or eliminate potential health risks, wastewater has to be properly treated before applied as a source for irrigation. Greywater is frequently treated using biological treatment processes. One of the most promising technologies for greywater reclamation is membrane bioreactor (MBRs). When well designed and operated, MBRs can achieve efficient contaminant removal rate for organic matters and suspended solids. Pathogens such as protozoa and bacteria can be removed via MBR under optimal conditions. However, viruses cannot be effectively removed through MBR process. Viruses are considered as one of the most infectious pathogens common to wastewater and a small dose of virus can cause severe infection. In this project, we propose to investigate the operation parameters in an MBR system for greywater treatment and test pathogen removal efficiency; the results from this project will assist in evaluating MBR as a decentralized water reuse system to produce “fit for use” water to be used for irrigation purposes.

Research Objectives

The primary objective of this project is to determine the operational parameters and evaluate pathogen removal efficiency of a small membrane bioreactor (MBR) designed to treat grey water for reuse as irrigation water for urban gardens. We will focus on investigating the performance of a submerged MBR for pathogen removal as well as the operational parameters affecting the removal, using a 0.4-μm hollow-fiber membrane module submerged in an aeration tank. The operational parameters will be determined. This decentralized wastewater treatment process will have a smaller footprint than a traditional wastewater system. 

Greywater will be collected from laundry rooms in dorms on campus and stored on site to be used for our experiments. A membrane bioreactor will be utilized to treat greywater collected.

To address the system effectiveness of MBR in removing pathogens,  Pathogen surrogates will be added into the membrane tank; and log reductions through the proposed treatment systems will be assessed.

Kimberly Jones | Howard University People ProfileKimberly Jones, PhD – Principal Investigator

Chair and Professor
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Howard University

Dr. Kimberly L. Jones is a professor of Environmental Engineering, Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education at Howard University in Washington, DC. She holds a B.S in Civil Engineering from Howard University, a M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois in Champaign, IL and a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from The Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Jones’ research interests include developing membrane processes for environmental applications, physical-chemical processes for water and wastewater treatment, remediation of emerging contaminants, global drinking water quality, environmental justice, and environmental nanotechnology.

Dr. Jones currently serves on the Chartered Science Advisory Board of the US Environmental Protection Agency, and as chair of the Drinking Water Committee of the Science Advisory Board. She has served on the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Board of Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors, where she was Secretary of the Board.  She has served on several committees of the National Academy of Science and the Institute of Medicine.  She served as the Deputy Director of the Keck Center for Nanoscale Materials for Molecular Recognition at Howard University. She also serves on the Center Steering Committee of the Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINT). Dr. Jones has received a Top Women in Science Award from the National Technical Association, the Outstanding Young Civil Engineer award from University of Illinois Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a NSF CAREER Award, an Outstanding Leadership and Service and Outstanding Faculty Mentor award from Howard University, and Top Women Achievers award from Essence Magazine. She also served as an associate editor of the Journal of Environmental Engineering (ASCE).